President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday said the government “condemns in the strongest terms” on what turned out to be an arson attack on the mosque in the village of Denia, outside Nicosia.
Fire services had earlier been investigating the cause of the Saturday afternoon blaze, which they said had damaged the wooden roof of the stone building to see whether it had been an arson attack.
“Such criminal acts, from wherever they come from and whatever the aim have only succeeded in causing problems to efforts to end the occupation and reunite our country,” Anastasiades said in a written statement.
The statement said the president had given instructions to the minister of justice and the chief of police to find the culprits asap. The interior ministry had been instructed to carry out repairs immediately, it added.
Built in the mid 19th century, the Denia mosque was restored three years ago under the auspices of the bi-communal Technical Committee for Cultural Heritage supported by EU funds with help from the UNDP.
At the time, Christakis Panayiotou, the head of Denia’s community council, said locals were delighted that the dilapidated mosque in their once mixed village had been restored. Many volunteered to build a pavement and plant flower beds around the place of worship, he said. Expressing his wish for reunification, Panayiotou said: “We don’t want to be at odds with the Turkish Cypriots. We want peace and friendship with them.”